Ulysse Nardin celebrates the 175 years brand’s anniversary. An impressive number sprinkled with exceptional innovations and technologies, magnificent examples of Haute Horlogerie and deep respect for heritage. During Geneva Watch Days 2021, the Le Locle originated brand revealed seven extraordinary pieces. From there, I selected the Marine Torpilleur Tourbillon Grand Feu as the first watch to have a closer look.
Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Tourbillon Grand Feu
Why I chose the Torpilleur Tourbillon Grand Feu first? Simple: silicon escapement tourbillon, a superb black grand feu enamel, and a look and feel that remind me of everything I love about Ulysse Nardin. Note: the watch presented today is a prototype.
The Marine Collection unforgettable look
Part of the Marine Collection, as even the name suggests, the Ref. 1282-310LE-2AE-175/1A is following closely the recognisable look. Manufactured in rose gold, the case with 42mm diameter and 11.93mm thickness offers a comfortable and pleasant wrist look. Of course, the case material makes it heavier than its steel counterparts, but this is also part of its charm.
The slightly oversized bezel has the mandatory Marine fluted design. Together with the polished caseband and fine-brushed curved lugs’ face, it contributes to the unforgettable Marine Torpilleur look. The side screwed plate reveals the piece number in format x/175 (since it is limited to 175 pieces). This detail present on the Ulysse Nardin cases is part of the elements that I love about the brand’s watches.
Another familiar detail is the rose gold crown with embossed UN and anchor logo. The crown is slightly visible even when the watch tends to hide under the sleeve, revealing for connoisseurs the hidden piece’s origins. The Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Tourbillon Grand Feu is fitted with a black alligator leather strap and deployant clasp. The clasps from recent years are quite comfortable and easy to use. The previous design was not quite ergonomically optimised and I am happy to see and report the improvement.
The double folding buckle is decorated with a subtle engraving with the Ulysse Nardin logo.
Now that’s a superb black enamel dial
Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Tourbillon Grand Feu dial is a show of… It reveals the brand’s capabilities in several categories: ultra-modern technologies, ultra-traditional techniques. Even if the dial is quite decorated with various elements it is not wearisome. Printed impetuous Roman numerals act like hour markers. An outer printed register serves as the reference for minutes.
The upper half of the dial proudly displays the 60 hours staggering power reserve (let’s say unnecessary but exceptional, thinking you can pick up the watch after an entire weekend and still having it beating with chronometric precision – that is absolutely cool). It uses a combination of a white printing register and Arabic numerals with golden print for “BAS” (empty) and “HAUT (full). The indication is present in a subtle recessed sub-dial.
The time is indicated by slender spade hands manufactured in rose gold hoovering over the emptiness of the black enamel. Manufactured by the Donzé Cadrans ( part of the same group), the dial is an example of technicality and precision in traditional grand feu art. The black dials are extremely difficult to produce and highly sensitive. It is mandatory for a minimum of 6-8 baking cycles, but it is not unusual to go to 12 cycles to produce a high-quality finish. And Donzé Cadrans really did an excellent job on these ones.
The other star of the show is the fun and coloured tourbillon that is actually using the newest technologies in the topic of silicon escapement. A pioneer in these technologies, Ulysse Nardin impresses not only with technicity but also with a maritime-themed design. The tourbillon bridge and construction reminds me of the navigational tools ( compasses, astrolabes and callipers). It is nice to see that Ulysse Nardin invested so much in the visual heritage.
As always, the details shine on the back too…
Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Tourbillon Grand Feu is fitted with the in-house designed Caliber UN-128. The 208 components automatic movement features a lot of ultra-modern technologies: Ulysse Anchor Escapement (constant) / blades technology with escapement wheel, balance spring & anchor in Silicium. This low friction materials also remove the need for lubricants and offer an excellent chronometric behaviour. The watch is also COSC certified. It is interesting that the design is a very slow beater – only 2.5 Hz, very unusual for these days.
Every time when I have the chance to get a Ulysse Nardin piece in my hands I have a look at the backside. I am never disappointed. This particular piece features a gorgeous decorated 22k gold rotor. Skeletonisation, engraving and enamelling make this component engaging and delightful. While it completely steals the show, we can still notice the circular Geneva waves, the chamfering and the perlage visible underneath.
Technology for the wrist, beauty for the hearth and mind
Ulysse Nardin Marine Torpilleur Tourbillon Grand Feu is a tour de force to reveal how capable and actual the brand is. At the same time, Ulysse Nardin keeps alive not only the heritage of the brand but also elaborated traditional techniques. The watch features a combination of old and new in a very distinctive and recognisable way: a black enamel dial and a high-tech silicon escapement tourbillon with a frequency reminding of rather pocket watches than 21-century timekeeping devices.
Makes almost no sense to say again that I was conquered by this merger of ideas that consolidates again the brand as one of the important and relevant players in the industry.
Ulysse Nardine Marine Torpilleur Tourbillon Grand Feu Technical Specifications
Reference 1282-310LE 2AE 175/1A – Limited edition: 175 pieces
- Hours, minutes
- Flying tourbillon with Ulysse Anchor Escapement (constant) / blades technology
- Power reserve indicator
- Escapement wheel , balance spring & anchor in Silicium
- 208 components / 36 jewels
- Frequency 2,5 Hz / oscillations 18’000 V/H
- Calibre UN 128 Constant Manufacture,
- automatic movement
- Power reserve: 60 hours
- Rose gold 5N polished & satin finish case / fluted bezel
- Case back: Open sapphire case back
- Diameter 42 mm, height 11.93 mm
- Water resistance: 50 m
- Black Grand Feu enamel dial by Donzé Cadrans
- Power reserve indicator at 12 o’clock
- Rose gold coloured hands
- Black alligator leather strap
- Compatible with R-STRAP
- Rubber strap
- Rose gold 5N deployant buckle
45’900 CHF / 42’200 € / 48’400 $